Gene drives and Trojan horses: A tale of two metaphor uses

I was reading a recent article on gene drive entitled “Engineering bugs, resurrecting species: The wild world of synthetic biology for conservation” and came across this sentence about a so-called ‘Medea drive’: “This genetic Trojan Horse could then be used to spread elements that confer susceptibility to certain environmental factors, such as triggering the death …

New metaphors for new understandings of genomes

This is a guest post by Sarah Perrault and Meaghan O’Keefe (University of California Davis) based on their article “New metaphors for new understanding of genomes”. The article goes beyond regular complaints about the inadequacy of old metaphors, such as the genome as a blueprint, and beyond regular calls for a new language. Instead, it …

Communicating gene drive: The dangers of misleading headlines

As some of you know, I am interested in how people communicate about ‘gene drive’, a new biotechnology that can potentially be used to eradicate disease transmitting animals. Wiping out the daughters Some days ago, I saw a tweet that mentioned an article published in The Guardian entitled “Wiping out the daughters: Burkina Faso’s controversial …

Astrogenomics: Integration and inspiration

I should have blogged about embryo editing in Russia. I should have blogged about Netflix’s ‘Unnatural selection’ series on CRISPR and genome editing. I should have blogged about prime editing, but life is getting in the way at the moment. That doesn’t mean I don’t look at twitter once in a while (au contraire!). So, …

A road called ‘gene drive’ and the road to ‘gene drive’: Trials and tribulations of media analysis

As people might know, I enjoy doing media analysis of emerging biotechnologies, from cloning to gene editing and beyond. I have lately become fascinated with something called ‘gene drive’, a new genetic engineering technology that was brought to public attention around 2014/2015 at the confluence of two ‘events’: the outbreak of Zika and advances in CRISPR-Cas9 …

Promoting Socially Irresponsible Research and Innovation?: That National Academy of Sciences tweet on genome editing and human enhancement

This is a guest post by Michael Morrison, PI on the ESRC BioModifying Technologies project at the Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford *** On the 30th September 2019 the Twitter account of the US National Academy of Sciences (@theNASciences) published the following tweet: “Dream of being …

Encounters between life and language

Philip Ball has just written a great article dissecting new research showing that there is no ‘gene for’ homosexuality. He notes the fallacies behind the facile way of pointing to individual genes and saying what they are ‘for’. This is dangerous, especially when talking about genes for behavioural traits. Single genes don’t determine such traits …

Inspecting Pandora’s box: Promises and perils of gene drives

This is a guest post by Aleksandra Stelmach, University of Nottingham, Institute for Science and Society. *** Some years ago the sociologist Alan Petersen noted that metaphors of new biotechnologies not only express hopes and fears about their use and misuse, but that they also set the agenda for debate and action. Thus, metaphors not …

New genetics and society: A retrospective

I am in a collecting mood at the moment. When I heard that an article (with Carmen McLeod and Rusi Jaspal) on faecal microbial transplants had finally been accepted by New Genetics and Society, I began to count back and realised I had published quite a few articles in this journal (mostly written in collaboration …